PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Prom season is nearly upon us and teens across the state are scouring stores, searching for the perfect dress.
But for hundreds of children in the foster care system, buying a new dress just isn’t possible.
Ava Sangiovanni, a 15-year-old sophomore at Mount St. Charles Academy, started the dress collection back in February. In just one month, she far exceeded her goal.
“Finding the dress like the perfect dress that gives you the wow factor is really important,” Sangiovanni said.
For many teens, like Sangiovanni and her older sister, the only concern is picking out a dress, not necessarily buying it.
“We never have to worry about getting a dress, or having the perfect accessories for the dress, or being able to go to prom, and I think that sometimes me or some other people could take that for granted,” Sangiovanni said.
Sangiovanni had an idea. She noticed that after wearing a prom dress just one time, it’s quickly retired.
“Oh it goes right in the closet, like you don’t wear it again,” Sangiovanni said.
Rather than hanging it up to collect dust Sangiovanni started a dress donation drive, collecting gowns for fellow students in foster care who can’t afford to buy one.
Tara Iadevaia is a senior at Ponaganset High School and spent five years in the foster care system.
“A lot of my friends have like $500 dresses,” Iadevaia said.
Without the ability to buy a dress, she missed her junior prom. Thanks to Sangiovanni’s drive, she has a beautiful gown to wear to her senior prom in May.
“She collected enough dresses so every kid in foster care if they wanted a dress they could have one to go to dances,” Iadevaia said.
The Pawtucket Ocean State Job Lot location’s storefront is now filled with more than 400 prom dresses, plus shoes, accessories and suits for the boys.
“It was all about creating a little bit more of a normalcy factor to make them not ‘the foster kid’ but just another beautiful girl or guy on prom,” Sangiovanni said.
The first of several dress distribution days is Monday from 5-7 p.m. at the Ocean State Job Lot Plaza located at 50 Ann Mary Street in Pawtucket.
Other dates include March 12-16, April 16-20 and May 14-18. Hours are 1-7 p.m. for those dates at the same location.
To learn more about Foster Forward — the organization that helped Sangiovanni put on the drive — click here, or call 401- 438-3900.